A pair of interviews circa 1982.



Colin Fulcher- AKA Barney Bubbles- created some of the most iconic imagery of the late-1970s London underground. After working closely with Hawkwind in the first half of the decade (he designed album covers, created song titles, and conceptualized their stage shows), he eventually concentrated his efforts on the emerging Stiff Records.

Characterized by its playful nature, Fultcher's work expanded the ambit of music-related graphic design. His work for Elvis Costello alone displays many of his favorite techniques: the cover of This Year's Model features a deliberately poor cropping job, and the first 1000 copies of My Aim is True came with postcards beseeching consumers to "Help Us Hype Elvis!"

Fulcher committed suicide in 1983, but his work lives on in the newly published "Reasons to be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles."

Via Selectism.



Airing from 1971 through 1987, The Old Grey Whistle Test provided a necessary contrast to the cheese ball lip-synching of Top of the Pops. Original host "Whispering" Bob Harris- still jockeying for BBC Radio today- introduced acts as disparate as the Buzzcocks, Billy Joel and Kris Kristofferson with equal enthusiasm, his goofy awe-shucks mannerisms a bit at odds with the progressive nature of the show. The BBC issued the show on DVD a while back, but managed to leave off some great performances.

The Rezillos: Destination Venus/Getting Me Down

Phil Lynott (w/ Huey Lewis on harmonica!): Ode to a Black Man

This last one is available on DVD, but is so transfixing it had to be included.

Talking Heads: Psycho Killer


Now that winter has officially dug in its claws, I'm on the prowl for any distraction from the sub-freezing temperatures and howling winds. Skimboarding and volleyball aren't typically the stuff of garage-punk dreams, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous of the boys in Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Knocking around the outback since 2003, ECSR made a name for themselves this year when the legendary Goner Records issued the band's second LP, Primary Colours. The album was subsequently nominated for an ARIA Award- Australia's version of the Grammys.

ECSR's brand of clipped phrasing and tight, muscular riffs are the perfect antidote to winter in Chicago, and the video for "Witch Way To Go" has been getting heavy play on the old laptop. It's got everything we haven't- sun, sand, and groovy little kids- and every time I watch it I'm reminded that music videos can actually be pretty great.



In my quest to track down old footage of Them, I stumbled across a seemingly bottomless well of amateur covers of "And It Stoned Me," the lead off track on 1970's "Moondance."




In an attempt to warm up between classes today, I ducked into the bookstore to kill some time. The recently-published Pitchfork 500 was boldly displayed on the first table; curious if there would be anything beyond P-fork's usual over-baked (but somehow always luke-warm) musings, I grabbed a copy.

The page I opened to reminded me of a song I haven't listened to in probably 10 years: Superchunk's "Slack Motherfucker." I think maybe the reviewer prattled off some nonsense about how much of an anti-anthem this song was/is, but I only skimmed the thing. Anyway:

Man, indierock sure has taken a nose-dive since 1989; can you imagine The Shins getting a crowed that riled up? Or doing windmills?

Snooze city.



Starlee Kine talks with Phil Collins about break ups on This American Life. A surprisingly charming and candid Collins discusses the dissolution of his first marriage and its influence on his musical transformation from fusion rock drummer to ultimate cheese-ball. link (originally aired 8/24/2007, so ancient news in internet)

While researching an upcoming feature on the jazz beard, I came across this guide to jazz etiquette. An excerpt--
     "When it comes to hats the rule is that there are no rules. However, nothing works with a cravat save for a beret - and a flat cap can really only be worn as an accompaniment to a waistcoat, and then only if the piano is out of tune. If the rim of your hat exceeds twice the width of your head, people will assume you're either a singer, a pimp or a harmonica player." link

MTV's music video archives are available online. Mostly not as cool as you remembered. link

I spent yesterday evening giving the newly mac compatible Netflix Instant a trial run with K Records: The Shield Around the K. While parts of it drag, and had me rolling my eyes through long sequences of Mecca Normal and Tiger Trap, there are some great moments like an incredible clip of Fugazi's performance (regrettably non-youtube-able) during the now legendary International Pop Underground back in '91.

Beat Happening - Bewitched



I was recently reminded of Blast First (Petite)'s ongoing tribute to early electronic music pioneers Suicide. Earlier this year (to commemorate Alan Vega's 70th birthday) the UK label began releasing a limited 10" every month or so chronicling Suicide's rare and unreleased output. Besides showcasing some newly unearthed rare grooves, the records also feature two covers, one by an established musical force, and one by a relative up-and-comer. Among those slated to appear on these records: Primal Scream, Grinderman, Sunn 0))), Lydia Lunch and Bruce Springsteen.



One more from Mississippi.

We're in the process of digitizing Mississippi's hard-to-find early releases. Stay tuned.

Download it here.


For your listening pleasure:

Download it here.



As fellow Big States contributor J. Everett Dixon pointed out, the "aggressively singular" Scott Walker is set to have a new documentary on him released stateside in January, Stephen Kijak's 30th Century Man. As a somewhat obssessive devotee of Walker's works, I am quite excited to see the man create, as well as what promise to be some very interesting interviews with Brian Eno, David Bowie, Radiohead, and the man himself. The film has dates in New York at the IFC Center on December 17th and 18th, and at Landmark Cinemas in SF/Berkeley on January 23rd, 2009. I reached Mr. Kijak by email on Dec. 3, 2008.

CORRECTION: Mr. Kijak just let me know that the dates posted are the beginnings of week-long runs. Even more opportunity to catch the film!

BIG STATES: What exactly was it that drew you to Scott Walker's music when you first heard it?

STEPHEN KIJAK: I heard everything I loved in it (all the dark and gloomy crooners, the dark and dramatic, the strange and surreal) and had no idea where it was coming from. Was it the past, the present? It seemed to exist in its own world, beamed in from some other universe. The first song I heard was "The Old Man's Back Again" and I was hooked.

I read somewhere that you intend for this to be a "film of discovery." Do you find it difficult to introduce his rather complex oeuvre to new listeners?

Not if it's done in the right order. The journey from the pop dramatics of 1967's "Montague Terrace" to the dense, abstract soundscapes of 2006's The Drift is a thrilling ride and there's generally something for everyone along the way (especially the middle period new-waveisms of Nite Flights and Climate of Hunter)

Biographical documentaries on musicians often seem to have trouble both weaving a compelling narrative and showcasing the work of the artist. How did you approach this problem in your film?

By cutting out all the extraneous 'personal' biographical bullshit and telling the story of the work, which has its own dramatic trajectory, which then illuminates the journey of the man, through his work.

Was he reluctant to be filmed?

Let's just say it took me 2 and a half years to get the first hint of a "yes" out of him.

Did you eventually establish a relationship with him beyond business acquaintance?

With his wonderful managers, yes. With him, no.

What part of Scott Walker, in your opinion, drives him to be so reclusive, shunning live shows and most media exposure?

He's just private. It seems to me he is still suffering in some way from the commercial failures of the 60's but has found a way back in creatively, so that the WORK feeds him and he doesn't need the adulation of an audience or heaps of press. The personal success of having done a thing to his own standards seems validation enough, which is extraordinary when you consider the amount of ego rumbling around in the music business!

Does Walker seem to be keenly aware of the influence his music has had?

He actually doesn't. He still thinks nobody knows who he is anymore.

Did he reveal to you any of the newer artists he admires besides the obvious (Pulp/Hawley)?

He loves Radiohead and a band called Acoustic Ladyland.

Did you find that Walker buys into his own "reclusive genius" mythology in any way?

No. It may serve him in that it lets him stay out of the public eye but I have never met a more genuine, egoless man in my life.

Where does he sit on the spectrum of humble to pretentious?

I think people throwing the claim of "pretension" at him have to examine their own sense of themselves and their insecurities with their own intelligence.

For someone born and raised on the West Coast (or anywhere in the US), it's pretty difficult to get an idea of just how influential and popular Scott Walker is in the UK. During your interviews with Bowie, Cocker, Eno, et al, was there ever a moment of realization as to just how important Walker is to UK rock culture?

He is enormously important. You have to understand, in the UK, from 1965-67, nearly every day in the pop papers, it was Beatles, Stones, Walkers. They were THAT huge, and he remained so until 1969 as a solo star. He was a giant. His music reverberated deep into the psyche of the British. Those songs are eternal. And here in his home couuntry, he's a footnote. Well, not for long!!


Here's all I know: The Hospitals are a three-piece from SF with members of Portland band Eat Skull. Released April 4, Hairdryer Peace (which sounds like your typical two-noun nonsense title until you consider the noisy implications) is probably my album of 2008. What the Hospitals seem to understand is that at this point, demolishing pop forms has been done. Here is a noise record with songs, not a pop record with noise leanings, and not a straight up noise excursion. "Getting Out of Bed" is the obvious jam of the record, with some of the best use of the currently-in-vogue nasally, flippant vocals I've heard thus far.

The production, though stuck in the "bedroom noise-psych" aesthetic, is constantly surprising--large swaths of compressed, moaning distortion tend to empty the brain cavity. The record breathes. Nowhere to be found are the two dynamic settings of a band like No Age (which basically boils down to: is the drummer on the ride cymbal, or isn't he?) or the incessant churn of novice noisemakers. Whoever is drumming is pretty incredible. Rhythm does not dominate this record, but it enhances the overall hugeness--the closest sonic equivalent I can think of is Phil Elvrum's drumming on the Glow Pt. II, which has long been one of my touchstones for a gigantic, over-compressed drum sound.

The motherfuckers only pressed 500 of these, sold out, so you're sort of out of luck for now. However, if you live in SF, they're playing at the LiPo Lounge in Chinatown, this Friday, Dec. 5 (with "the Bridez," fuck a "z" in a bandname), and they'd better have LPs there or I'll be upset. The show is free, at least.